Did The President Hear What Darius Just Said? By Emmanuel Bello

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When critics aver that the APC- led federal government like politicising every issue, you need look no further than the Taraba state story right now. This state is decidedly PDP since 1999 and this is the first time it’s found itself in the opposition. This fact, it seems, has pit the state against the center to the extent the FG always now merely pay it lip service and has not really taken it seriously on many fronts. If this were not the case, I’m wondering why, for instance, the FG is not currently going “gaga” over Taraba state’s expression that it could feed the rest of the country with rice. I wonder why the FG hasn’t tapped into the state’s abundant tourism potentials (the Mambilla Plateau is one of the best scenery in the country). I still wonder why both the Mambilla and Kashimbilla Hydro power dam are approached with the snail speed it doesn’t deserve. The only thing that seems to excite the FG about Taraba state is how to “capture” it in 2019.

But beyond all of these is the current inspid reaction of the FG to the fears freshly expressed by the governor of Taraba state, Arch. Darius Dickson Ishaku. The governor was very clear about it when he declared last Thursday that the outlawed Boko Haram outfit is regrouping in Taraba. Now that is a scary scenario on its own. But what’s scarier is the mute silence and the unfeeling response from the federal government. Since that grim pronouncement by the governor, I have waited patiently to hear anything from the federal government. Nothing. Not even a whimpering press statement offering the usual sleepy assurances. “Mum” is both the word and the act. The governor, a former minister and  highly diplomatic individual, must have explored other means to drag the attention of the Federal Government to this serious issue. His outburst, last Thursday, must have been borne out of fear that the powers that be are not really bothered about his earlier alarm. So when one military top brass  finally visited him in Jalingo, the taciturn governor opened up. He told him pointblank that Boko Haram forces were regrouping at Suntai Daaji, somewhere in Bali local government of the state. Elsewhere in the civilised world, an alarm like raised by a ranking state official should spark a dramatic reaction from the top. And as far as security alerts go, nothing could be more serious. The governor even suggested what he thought the federal government should do about it. He called for a special force to be sent to the state. Now, I don’t know if anything is being done as I write this. But I was kind of expecting some drastic response to what the governor said. Darius Ishaku even went further to tell the visiting army chief how the insurgents have started operating. Farms and farmers are at risk. Transportation around the area is precarious. In Taraba, recession has been blessed with siblings of fear and insecurity. High hopes for commerce and tourism would have to wait till another day.

So what is the president waiting for now? Is it when BH annexes the place and plants its flag there? Is it when another Chibok happens? Is it when Taraba people flee their state and become refugees elsewhere? By now, I thought the planes would have started hovering over Suntai Daaji. I thought a press statement from the army headquarters assuaging fears and reassuring citizens would have been released. I thought Buratai would have , once more, headed to Taraba to confer with the governor. The alarm is a grade A category one that ought to be treated as an emergency. Sambisa became a global sensation, albiet a negative one. We can’t afford to start another due to cold and indifferent detachment, political sentiments and historic nonchalance.

Bello is the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to Governor Ishaku.

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